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Comptroller warns Glen Cove not to count on revenue from waterfront project

Glen Cove City Hall is shown.

Glen Cove City Hall is shown. Credit: T.C. McCarthy

The state comptroller's office is warning Glen Cove that its 2016 budget relies too much on uncertain projected revenue from the planned waterfront development, echoing concerns of some City Council members, including Mayor Reginald Spinello's opponent in the Nov. 3 election.

The budget review also chides the city for continuing to finance operating expenses with debt, despite the state's previous urging that it discontinue the practice.

The report was publicly released on Wednesday, less than a month after Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's office named Glen Cove one of the state's most financially stressed municipalities.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the 2016 budget at its Tuesday meeting.

The budget relies on $3.5 million from the expected sale of land to developer RXR for the giant Garvies Point waterfront project, which is to include housing, parks, stores, offices, marinas and other amenities. The budget also includes $1.1 million in expected revenue from building permits associated with the project.

Mayor Reginald Spinello said the sale of the land is on track.

"We are confident the property is going to close," Spinello said.

But Philip Pidot, a City Council candidate on the slate of Councilman and mayoral challenger Anthony Gallo, said the complex project has dragged on for years, and there is far too much uncertainty to count on it for revenue.

Even if the city gets the money, officials should heed the warning from the comptroller's office to not use the "one-shot revenues" to fund operating expenses and, Pidot said. He suggested the city instead use the money to pay down debt or for other financial obligations.

The report also criticized the city for its reliance on debt and for a combined deficit of nearly $5.3 million in three funds.

Spinello said the waterfront development would reap years of future revenue for the city, including from property taxes, fees paid by RXR and economic growth the project generates. He said that under the nearly two years of his administration, the city's debt has declined from about $64 million to $60 million, and he predicted it will continue to fall.

Following all of the comptroller's recommendations would either have led to a severe cut in services or tax increases of 16 percent or more, the mayor said.

"What we decided was we weren't going to burden the taxpayers," he said.


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